CHURCH BUSINESS: Spiritual leaders and speaking truth to power
By Oludare Mayowa
In the past few weeks the central government and its agents, including the Department of State Service (DSS), the Army and the special advisers on media to the president have been echoing one thing; ‘threat from some religious and ex-political leaders to destabilize the government and the country.”
Their statements are basically on the rising criticism of the government over its handling of the security situation in the country, which has escalated to the extent that many people are worried over the future of the country.
Those being accused by the government of planning to distabilise the nation and dethrone the government are merely expressing their concerns over the going on the country, which is also a common issue being discussed around the country by many ordinary Nigerians.
Many church leaders have lent their voices to decry the deteriorating security situation in the country and call on the government to get hold of the situation and ensure the safety of lives and property.
However, rather than those in government to see the need to take to heart the criticisms as positive counsel, they would rather consider such as attempts to pull the government down and cause disintegration of the country.
In the light of the manner the government has responded to the criticism, how should the church equally respond to the going on in the country without being seen as wanting to pull the government down or cause insurrection in the country?
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As the salt of the word the church is enjoined to provide the needed savor for a tasteless society like ours which is gradually descending into chaos and a state of anarchy without the government able to stem the tide.
We are equally enjoined to provide light to the darkness that is fast enveloping our society so as to keep the people away from falling into the pit.
But how can church leaders be relevant in such a state of intolerant by the government and fulfill their role as the voice of reason and the moderating factor to ensure the society remains a safe and sane environment for the people to thrive?
It’s imperative that as custodians and representatives of spiritual institutions, church leaders are messengers of God who are to serve as watchmen of the city and ensure that they speak out the message of God to redirect his people away from the path of destruction.
Church leaders have the duty and responsibility to both their flocks and the society to warn the political leaders of the impending doom staring the country in the face regardless of the body language and innuendo from the government.
Church leaders should continue to hold the government accountable and provide light and alternative and unbiased views so that the enemies would not take over and wreak havoc on God’s people and the land they dwell in.
It’s the duty of the government to provide a livable environment where all religions will thrive without one section want to stifle the other.
It’s the responsibility of the government to ensure the safety of all citizens irrespective of where they come from or what political parties they belong to.
Once the government failed or seen to be failing in its duty, the spiritual leaders have the duty to call such government to order without fear of being victimised.
We have seen indeed how some of our spiritual leaders have responded to the chaos and darkness that is enveloping the country and we have seen how some of our spiritual leaders have risen to the situation and display boldness without fearing the oppressive instruments of the government.
There is the need to increase the tempo of their pressure on the government to do more to secure the nation and ensure a conducive environment for the church to worship the true God.
Church leaders should stay the course and without exercising fear regardless of the ranting of the DSS, the media hands of the president, and the supporters of the ruling party.
There is a Yoruba adage that says, if the eye is excreting mucous, it should be shown, it’s the duty of spiritual leaders to guide the political leaders away from the impending doom otherwise, we may all become the victims of the uncoordinated disaster that may eventually befall the country.
From the scripture, the church has great examples of prophets of God who were the mouthpiece of God and who spoke the mind of God to the political leadership of their time and ensure that they hold them accountable and the Lord backed them.
We have spiritual leaders like Elijah who called King Ahab to order when he derailed from the path of righteousness.
Also Prophet Samuel was a spiritual leader who spoke the truth in boldness to king Saul who also had the power of life and death vested in his office.
There was also prophet Jeremiah who stood boldly against the idolatry of his time and declared the counsel of God to his generation without fear of being persecuted by the civil authority.
However, church leaders must be civil in passing on their message, be gracious to understand that their counsel is meant to reshape and not destroy those who they are criticizing.
They should not also allow their ethnic, religious and personal biases to dictate or color their intervention.
Like the prophet of old, they shouldn’t deviate from the word of God or His instruction as they are directed to pass on to political leaders.
They should also stand boldly, not allowed themselves to be cowed by what people in government are saying.
It’s obvious that this government has derailed and has not lived up to the expectations of those who entrusted them with power, so they must be told in clear terms.
It’s also true and glaring that the present government, particularly the president has not been tolerant or amenable to good counsel right from his time as military head of state.
President Mohammadu Buhari was once’s described by the legendary Wole Soyinka as ‘deaf and dumb’ while he was a military head of state as a result of his intolerance to the voice of reason.
This nation belongs to all of us and it’s our duty and responsibility to ensure that it works and remains livable to our children and theirs as well.